Fraser Health Authority Apologizes (Again) For Cutting Sikh Patient’s Beard

Just over a year ago we read about a Canadian health organization’sapology for accidently shaving off a Sikh patient’s beard. In that case, a 70-year-old patient was admitted into the intensive care unit after a shooting and while under the care of the hospital, had his beard removed by a nurse. At the time of the incident, Fraser Health Authority acknowledged their mistake in not understanding the importance of the beard for the Sikh faith and assured the community that awareness was raised across the organization.

Fraser Health Authority is now apologizing again for a similar incident which occurred at one of their nursing homes, where an elderly Sikh man’s beard was cut.

B.C.’s Fraser Health Authority is investigating why staff at a seniors care facility made the “terribly unfortunate human error” of cutting the beard off an elderly Sikh patient, the second time such an incident has occurred in the past two years. A nurse cut the man’s beard out of what she thought was medical necessity. [link]

The “medical necessity” has not been disclosed. Fraser Health Authority’s CEO, Nigel Murray, appeared on a Punjabi radio station yesterday to apologize for the incident.

“We just wanted to reassure the wider Sikh community that we believe it was an unfortunate mistake,” Murray said.

The Sikh man died a few days ago – and while the cause of his death is currently unknown, it does make you wonder what emotional trauma this elderly man suffered due to the error. Health organizations across North America are being pushed by accreditation agencies to focus on providing culturally sensitive care. It is a shame that enforcing regulations is what health care providers need in order to provide quality care to their patients.


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6 Responses to “Fraser Health Authority Apologizes (Again) For Cutting Sikh Patient’s Beard”

  1. Aman says:

    This is an unfortunate mistake (hopefully). Poor man who had almost lived his entire life without cutting his hair, and then had it cut so close to death.

  2. Aman says:

    This is an unfortunate mistake (hopefully). Poor man who had almost lived his entire life without cutting his hair, and then had it cut so close to death.

  3. For Immediate Release

    Fraser Health Authority Apology to Sikh Community Not Enough: WSO

    Ottawa – March 25, 2010: The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is disturbed to learn that for the second time in the last two years, reports have emerged of a Sikh patient’s beard having been cut at a Fraser Health Authority (FHA) facility. Adherents of the Sikh faith maintain uncut hair as a symbol of the faith, signifying acceptance of God’s will. According to reports, an elderly Sikh patient’s beard was cut by a FHA nurse shortly before his death. Although FHA has apologized for the incident, hollow apologies without corrective measures to ensure such incidents are not repeated, are not enough to satisfy the Sikh community.

    FHA services an area with the highest concentrations of Sikhs in Canada. The Sikh community has also generously supported FHA with successful fundraising campaigns and a $5million pledge of support. After a 2008 incident of a Sikh patient’s beard having been cut, FHA made a commitment to educate its staff on religious and cultural sensitivity and specifically about the requirements of the Sikh faith. WSO had offered to provide free training to aid in the process, but the offer was not accepted.

    Speaking about the incident, WSO’s senior policy advisor Gian Singh Sandhu said, “Our deepest sympathies are with the affected family. It is unacceptable that an incident like this can still take place at Fraser Health. In 2008 the Sikh community was assured the problem would be solved but it is clear that some staff are still completely ignorant about Sikh religious practices.”

    WSO President, Prem Singh Vinning said, “The Sikh community has always stepped up to the plate to help Fraser Health. In order to retain the community’s support and confidence, Fraser Health needs to make sure that an incident like this is never repeated.”

    WSO calls upon FHA to implement a formal education program for all staff in dealing with the needs of the Sikh community. The Sikh community must be reassured that steps are being taken to ensure that incidents like this are never repeated. Once again, WSO offers its assistance without charge in facilitating that process.

    The World Sikh Organization (WSO) is a non-profit international organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of the Sikh Diaspora, as well as to promote and advocate for the protection of human rights for all individuals, irrespective of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, and social and economic status.

    — 30 —

    For more information, please contact:

    Gian Singh Sandhu, at 604-341-2755, e-mail: [email protected]; or,

    Prem Singh Vinning at 604-312-6377, email: [email protected]

    Please visit <a href="http://www.worldsikh.ca” target=”_blank”>www.worldsikh.ca or <a href="http://www.twitter.com/worldsikhorg” target=”_blank”>www.twitter.com/worldsikhorg for further information

  4. For Immediate Release

    Fraser Health Authority Apology to Sikh Community Not Enough: WSO

    Ottawa – March 25, 2010: The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is disturbed to learn that for the second time in the last two years, reports have emerged of a Sikh patient’s beard having been cut at a Fraser Health Authority (FHA) facility. Adherents of the Sikh faith maintain uncut hair as a symbol of the faith, signifying acceptance of God’s will. According to reports, an elderly Sikh patient’s beard was cut by a FHA nurse shortly before his death. Although FHA has apologized for the incident, hollow apologies without corrective measures to ensure such incidents are not repeated, are not enough to satisfy the Sikh community.

    FHA services an area with the highest concentrations of Sikhs in Canada. The Sikh community has also generously supported FHA with successful fundraising campaigns and a $5million pledge of support. After a 2008 incident of a Sikh patient’s beard having been cut, FHA made a commitment to educate its staff on religious and cultural sensitivity and specifically about the requirements of the Sikh faith. WSO had offered to provide free training to aid in the process, but the offer was not accepted.

    Speaking about the incident, WSO’s senior policy advisor Gian Singh Sandhu said, “Our deepest sympathies are with the affected family. It is unacceptable that an incident like this can still take place at Fraser Health. In 2008 the Sikh community was assured the problem would be solved but it is clear that some staff are still completely ignorant about Sikh religious practices.”

    WSO President, Prem Singh Vinning said, “The Sikh community has always stepped up to the plate to help Fraser Health. In order to retain the community’s support and confidence, Fraser Health needs to make sure that an incident like this is never repeated.”

    WSO calls upon FHA to implement a formal education program for all staff in dealing with the needs of the Sikh community. The Sikh community must be reassured that steps are being taken to ensure that incidents like this are never repeated. Once again, WSO offers its assistance without charge in facilitating that process.

    The World Sikh Organization (WSO) is a non-profit international organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of the Sikh Diaspora, as well as to promote and advocate for the protection of human rights for all individuals, irrespective of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, and social and economic status.

    — 30 —

    For more information, please contact:

    Gian Singh Sandhu, at 604-341-2755, e-mail: [email protected]; or,

    Prem Singh Vinning at 604-312-6377, email: [email protected]

    Please visit http://www.worldsikh.ca or http://www.twitter.com/worldsikhorg for further information

  5. adam says:

    According to reports, an elderly Sikh patient’s beard was cut by a FHA nurse shortly before his death. Although FHA has apologized for the incident, hollow apologies without corrective measures to ensure such incidents are not repeated, are not enough to satisfy the Sikh community.

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